Evanston emergency declaration up for extension


Hours before it would otherwise expire, Evanston aldermen are scheduled to vote Monday night on a resolution that would extend the city’s COVID-19 state of emergency declaration through June 8.

The vote will be taken as data from the state indicates that the Northeast Illinois region has not yet made enough progress in reducing the positive test result rate for the novel coronavirus to move from the current Phase 2 of the Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-home order to the moderately less restrictive Phase 3.

Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan sets several criteria for moving to the next phase — including that the positive result rate for COVID-19 tests must be under 20% for two weeks.

The other three regions of the state are on track to meet that goal, but so far Northeast Illinois, which includes the Chicago metro area, is not.

The criteria also call for stable or decreasing hospital admissions for COVID-19-like illness for 28 days. All the state’s regions appear at this point to be on track to meet that goal, but could not achieve it until May 28 at the earliest.

They also call for each region to have available surge capacity of at least 14% for medical and surgical hospital beds, intensive care unit beds and ventilators. All regions currently meet that standard, but there is the smallest amount of margin above that threshold in the Northeast region.

Pritzker’s rules also call for sufficient COVID-19 testing availability, but don’t have a specific number attached to that standard. And, finally, the rules call for contact tracing and monitoring for all patients to begin within 24 hours of diagnosis.

It’s not yet clear how close the regions are to meeting that standard, and the state is only beginning to ramp up a program to hire nearly 4,000 additional contact tracers.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has outlined a somewhat more restrictive set of standards for opening her city than those outlined by the governor.

Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty said this weekend that Evanston is likely to be in the current “flattening” phase of the COVID-19 response “for a while” and he hasn’t yet developed any new guidelines for how Evanston might more on to the next phase.

Under the governor’s rules, local governments can impose additional restrictions beyond those required by the state, but can’t adopt less restrictive ones.

June 8, the proposed new local emergency declaration expiration date, is the date of the first scheduled City Council meeting in June.

Update 5/12/20 9 a.m.: Aldermen voted unanimously Monday night to extend the state of emergency declaration, which is needed for the city to qualify for federal reimbursement of ongoing expenses related to the pandemic.

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